Nines World Cup confirmed among plans for new international calendar

A Nines World Cup, an Emerging Nations World Championship and more have been revealed as part of the new international calendar following a meeting by the Rugby League International Federation’s board.

The plans were revealed on Wednesday after the board met on Tuesday to broaden the international game, with a number of new initiatives devised.

And the board agreed that following a tour of Australia and New Zealand by England in 2019, that will be supplemented by an RLIF Nines World Cup – the first of its kind.

Expressions of interest to host the RLIF Nines World Cup have been received and a full report will be made to the 9 May Board meeting. Following an evaluation of the event, the board will review whether the 2023 RLIF Global Event should be a Nines World Cup or a 13-a-side event.

“This meeting received the Tier One Nations proposed programme for the next four-year cycle together with the RLF Global Events,” the RLIF said.

“The RLIF Chief Executive David Collier will now work with our Continental Federations and our International Competition Group chaired by Graeme Thompson to bring forward proposals to our 9 May Board meeting concerning complementary Continental competitions and matches to expand Tier Two and Tier Three Nation international fixtures.

“Whilst the detail of the matches will not be finalised until the Autumn RLIF is delighted to have identified a full programme for the next four-year cycle to enable the completion of the International Calendar.”

In support of the RLIF strategic plan, ‘Global Conversion’, the board determined to support an Emerging Nations World Championship in 2018.

Each team will be required to be entered by the RLIF Member Nation and will be required to meet the RLIF eligibility regulations. The RLIF determined that a measure of success for the event and RLIF’s investment of $100,000 will be the legacy provided by players returning to their home nation to expand and further develop the sport.

In addition to the Emerging Nations World Championship, expressions of interest had been received by RLIF from regions to compete in their own competition. Whilst being unable to financially support such a competition, the RLIF board endorsed up to four regions participating in a parallel competition.

Other details from the meeting included:

  • The 2021 World Cup will be a 16-team competition, up from the 14 who will compete this year.
  • That will include seven from Europe, six from Asia Pacific, two from the Americas and one from a play-off series hosted in Middle East/Africa.
  • All eight quarter-finalists at this year’s event will qualify automatically.
  • Italy have become a Full Member of the RLIF.
  • The RLIF board will meet again in Sydney in May.